Australia: The nuts and bolts of enforcement under the Heavy Vehicle National Law

The Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) is an intricate statute that contains a wide range of mechanisms to address the contraventions of its terms. This article walks you through the nuts and bolts of the nine enforcement mechanisms that may be used in response to HVNL offences.

  1. Formal warnings

An authorised officer can issue a formal warning if they reasonably believe that a person has contravened the HVNL but exercised reasonable diligence to prevent the contravention and was unaware of it. Formal warnings cannot be given for substantial or severe risk breaches of mass, dimension or loading requirements or for substantial, severe or critical risk breaches of work and rest requirements.

  1. Enforceable undertakings

A person can offer an undertaking to the Regulator in respect of a contravention or an alleged contravention of the HVNL. An enforceable undertaking may be accepted where the Regulator or authorised officer reasonably believes that the undertaking will ensure that the person complies with the HVNL.

  1. Infringement notices

An authorised officer can issue an infringement notice as an alternative to prosecution for an offence under the HVNL. Usually infringement notices are issued for 'strict liability' offences; that is, where a person engages in non-compliant conduct and that in and of itself constitutes an offence, without the authorised officer or regulator needing to prove as well that the offender had the mental intention or fault to engage in that conduct. Infringement payment levels are indexed each year and available on the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator website here. They are set at 10 per cent of the maximum penalty for an HVNL contravention that can be imposed by the Court.

  1. Penalties

A court may issue a penalty against a person whom it finds guilty of an offence under the HVNL. Maximum penalties are set out under the provisions of the HVNL. For example, if a person is found guilty on indictment for a category 1 contravention of a primary duty, then the maximum penalty that a court may impose is $3 million for a corporation or $1 million for an individual. If a provision of the HVNL does not distinguish between an individual and corporate penalty, the maximum penalty under that provision is to be taken as the maximum penalty for an individual and the maximum penalty for a company will be five times the individual's maximum penalty. For example, the maximum penalty for an individual for tampering with a speed limiter fitted to a heavy vehicle under s 93(1) is $11,210. Therefore, the maximum penalty for a corporation is $56,050.

In determining the appropriate penalty to impose on a person, the court will take into account various factors listed under the HVNL, such as risk of accelerated road wear, damage to infrastructure and public safety. The court will also take into account the objects of sentencing, listed under the crimes sentencing procedure legislation of each state – such as punishment, deterrence, rehabilitation and community protection.

  1. Supervisory intervention orders

A court can make a supervisory intervention order requiring a person, at the person's own expense, to take certain actions. These orders last for one year. They are commonly made where a company has committed an offence and there is some systematic reason for that offence (for example, a lack of staff training or compliance procedures). Often, the underlying purpose of such an order is to rehabilitate a business and get it into a position where it can comply with the HVNL.

  1. Prohibition orders

A court can make a prohibition order to prohibit a person from having a specific role or responsibility associated with road transport. The order can last for a maximum of one year. These orders are made when the court finds a person guilty of an offence under the HVNL and considers the person to be, or to be likely to become, a systematic or persistent offender against the HVNL.

  1. Compensation orders

Compensation orders often arise where there has been damage to road infrastructure as a result of an offence. The amount of a compensation order is the amount that the court considers appropriate for loss incurred, or likely to be incurred, by the road manager.
Compensation orders are not to be made in respect of personal injury or death, loss of income or property that is not a part of the road infrastructure. Usually compensation for these matters would be brought by way of private civil proceedings.

  1. Injunction

A court can also order an injunction requiring a person to cease contravening the HVNL. These orders are relatively rare, as they would need to arise in circumstances where there continues to be a persistent breach by the offending party.

  1. Imprisonment

Imprisonment is the most severe enforcement mechanism that can be imposed under the HVNL against individuals. An individual can be sentenced to a maximum of 5 years' imprisonment if they commit a category 1 breach of the primary duty.

Executives should note that breaches of their executive duty under s 26D can also expose them to the risk of imprisonment, if they fail to exercise due diligence to ensure that their businesses comply with, among other things, their primary duty.

A final note on enforcement options

The diverse enforcement options available under the HVNL are aimed at accommodating the wide variety of activities taking place in the supply chain relating to heavy vehicles; the personal circumstances of specific CoR parties may also make one enforcement mechanism more favourable than another. Regulators have a discretion as to what enforcement approach to take in the circumstances. Often, the less intrusive, or 'softer' enforcement approaches are applied as against those organisations who can demonstrate that they are attempting to meet their obligations, but have misjudged what is required. The more intrusive options are applied as against those organisations that disregard their obligations. What enforcement tools would you prefer to be on the receiving end of?

This publication does not deal with every important topic or change in law and is not intended to be relied upon as a substitute for legal or other advice that may be relevant to the reader's specific circumstances. If you have found this publication of interest and would like to know more or wish to obtain legal advice relevant to your circumstances please contact one of the named individuals listed.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions